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“Prime Workers” Are Back

U.S. workers in their prime employment years are rejoining the labor force in droves, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “Americans between 25 and 54 years of age are either employed or looking for jobs at rates not seen in two decades, a trend helping to counter the exodus of older baby boomers from the workforce.”

  • These “prime-age workers”—whose numbers fell in the early days of COVID-19—now exceed pre-pandemic levels by nearly 2.2 million.

Why it’s important: The “growth is taking a little heat out of the job market and could help the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tamp down inflation by keeping wage growth in check.”

  • The central bank will decide at its meeting this week whether to raise interest rates for the 11th time in 16 months.

Women for the win: Women’s return to the workforce is largely driving this increase, according to the article.

  • “The labor force participation rate for prime-age women was the highest on record, 77.8% in June. That is well up from 73.5% in April 2020.”

Other factors: Unemployment remains near historic lows, women are having fewer children and wages are up, having recently surpassed inflation.

The NAM’s take: “There have been definite signs of improvement in labor force participation, particularly among those ages 25 to 54, including women,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray, who is also the director of the Center for Manufacturing Research at the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate.

  • “With that said, we know that many Americans remain on the sidelines, and demographic trends will keep workforce challenges in focus not just in the coming months, but also over the next few years. The Manufacturing Institute continues to stay on top of these trends, including pulling people together for solutions and key insights.”

Learn more: Register for the MI’s annual Workforce Summit in Atlanta on Oct. 16–18. “Sourcing Solutions: Skills, People & Processes” will focus on solutions to current workforce-development challenges.

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